5 Tips to a Strong Interview
While the news on the tele may not reflect this, there is great opportunity out there right now. People are moving, organizations are discovering how positive remote work can be and new positions are being created as fast as some are dissolving. You may have been in your position for awhile, but now with this major shift in how we do business, is it time for you to start looking up and look around?
High Ground Coaching has been helping people prepare for interviews for years now and have some tried and true methods to share with you today. Whether you are changing organizations or throwing your hat in the ring for that promotion - these 5 tips will remind you of what it feels like to put your best self forward!
1. Start Connecting
Making connections is really more of a way of life, but deserves the first slot just in case you aren't doing this already. Whether or not you are interested in changing careers or just desiring to thrive where you are, making quality connections is where all great leaders start. These connections can be great mentors, brainstorming partners and become true confidants.
In the realm of interviewing, it is great to ask your connections about the position. Great questions include:
- Do you know anyone at organization A?
- Do you know anyone that has held this position before, either at company A or any other?
- Would you be a reference for me?
- Do you have any example of when I may have exhibited this trait?
Great connections can provide you invaluable insight when preparing for an interview - what questions could you ask?
2. Make Notes
Keep a journal and start jotting down real life examples of you exhibiting leadership skills or learning opportunities. Especially if you know you will be interviewing in the next 30-60 days, start now!
Great examples include:
- A moment you provided solid constructive feedback.
- A moment you received constructive feedback.
- An example of you going above and beyond for a client/project/coworker.
- An example of a time you could have done better.
- An example of a situation you wish you behaved/reacted differently.
These are just some suggestions. Refer to the specific job description published by the organization as well to make sure you are focusing on traits/knowledge referred to within.
Which leads nicely into the next tip!
3. Be specific
Once you have decided to apply for a specific position, refer to the job description and requirements. These will provide so much information! You can learn if the position and organization values leadership, communication, tech skills, customer service, flexibility or quick reactions - or all of the above! Once you have this information, go back to your notes and highlight the examples that fit the best.
You can really start to hone in on these examples and fill in specific time frames, characters involved and how the solutions came to pass. Being able to tell a specific story will help you stand out within the interview process.
Prepare the following for each relevant example:
- Set the scene; who was involved, what was at stake, and what was the desired outcome
- Time frame - both desired and achieved
- Why you succeeded or failed (failure is not bad, it is necessary to grow!)
- What did you learn
4. Pay Attention to the Language
Make sure you use the language of the position you are interviewing for. This is another nugget that can be found within the copy of the job description/requirements. You can also find valuable information on the organizations website and social media pages. As you practice your examples, intertwine this language within your answer.
You will already be speaking their language and come across as a great fit!
5. Prepare Great Questions
You will certainly be given the opportunity to ask your own questions. This is a great time to ask about company culture and get an inside look. Remember, even though you may be the interviewee, you still want to make sure you are a good fit as well. You are interviewing them as well! This is NOT the time to ask about salary or benefits.
Some great questions to ask:
- What do you like most about working for Organization A?
- How do you measure success in this role? How often are employees evaluated for these metrics?
- Why is this position vacant?
- What does the day to day look like in this role?
- Do you have any reservations based on what I've shared with you today about me moving forward in the interview process?
This last one is a favorite. It can certainly go one of two ways. The first, they want you to move forward and you can leave feeling good! The second - they have reservations about you. If they have any concerns about your experience, You can either take that moment to say how you will learn the skills you don't currently have - OR, email them after with a class or training that will show you can learn to be in the role.
6. Don't Overlook the Thank You!
For me, this is a non-negotiable. Whether you excelled or bombed the interview - whether you left feeling like this was a great fit or you're not interested - NEVER SKIP THE THANK YOU!
If you have the names of those interviewing ahead of time (which you can ask for when the
interview is being scheduled) have pre-written thank you notes at the interview. You can either hand them to the gatekeeper on your way out or hand them directly to the interviewers. I prefer the gatekeeper because they will get them a bit later and you will have another touch point to really stand out. Mailing directly after is also an option. I would often have them with me and pop them in the mailbox after the interview - so they are postmarked that day.
Is an email thank you good? The simple answer is - sure. Just know that it won't make the same impact. If that is the impression you want to have on those deciding whether or not this is your next big opportunity, sure - go ahead and email a thank you. But, if this position is important, if you really want to be their next big star - an email won't cut it.
What other interview help do you need? High Ground Coaching and Development also has an Interview Intensive program that helps you hone your answers so that you interview like a pro!
Go take that next big step!